Coronavirus pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty, says UN report

A new analysis by the United Nations showed that the coronavirus pandemic has widened the poverty gap between men and women and will push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty by 2021.

The data, commissioned by United Nations Women and United Nations Development Programme, showed that the poverty rate for women would increase by 9.1%, which was earlier slated to decline by 2.7% between 2019 and 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic will push a total of 96 million people into extreme poverty, including 47 million women and girls, the UN agencies said in a report titled “From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of Covid-19”, adding that the figures will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.

The projections estimated that by 2021, for every 100 men aged between 25 and 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women. The gap is further expected to widen to 121 women per 100 men by 2030, the data showed.

“The increases in women’s extreme poverty are a stark indictment of deep flaws in the ways we have constructed our societies and economies,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs in fact, overall, women’s employment is 19% more at risk than men’s.”

UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner said that over 100 million women can be lifted out poverty if the countries implement a strategy to provide them with better access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers.

“Women are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 crisis as they are more likely to lose their source of income and less likely to be covered by social protection measures,” he said. “Investing in reducing gender inequality is not only smart and affordable but also an urgent choice that governments can make to reverse the impact of the pandemic on poverty reduction.”

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 59% of the women who are poor, will continue to have the highest number of the world’s extremely underprivileged, the projections showed.

The study further stated that women with disabilities were more likely to face domestic violence and that was 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence.

It was also estimated in the study that it would take only 0.14% of the global Gross Domestic Product ($2 trillion or over Rs 1.4 lakh crore to lift the world out of extreme poverty by 2030.

The report also recommended measures, including addressing problems related to gender pay gaps, inadequate access to affordable childcare and occupational segregation. Other measures included introducing economic support packages for vulnerable women, countries increasing social protection for women and boosting research and data availability on the gendered impacts of Covid-19.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 2.5 crore people and caused more than 8.61 lakh deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. Over 1.69 crore people in the world have recovered from the infection.

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Coronavirus pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls into extreme poverty, says UN report